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How the pandemic has increased the digitalisation of customer service

As the Coronavirus pandemic unfolded earlier this year, the need to maintain vital customer services became more important than ever.

The challenge came firstly in quickly moving traditionally office-based customer service colleagues to a home-working solution. While it is expected that working from home is likely to scale back from its current levels, data suggests it will remain higher than pre-COVID-19 levels, stabilising at c.30% globally.

As expected, many organisations saw an increase in demand for customer service, with more people adopting digital channels such as mobile chat and social media as their preferred method of contact.

With limited safe office space available, and with face-to-face customer service no longer possible, many call advisors moved to home working. It is unsurprising, therefore, that, as businesses struggle to manage the increasing demand caused by the pandemic, the trend to increased digitalisation of customer services has accelerated.

One noticeable shift has been the increasing use of bots and automation to support self-service. Data shows a growing number of vendors have launched virtual assistants and chatbots to handle queries during the pandemic.

This is possible due to the improvements in conversational AI, technology that provides automated messaging and speech-enabled applications that offer authentic interactions between computers and humans. During the pandemic, Capita, like others, has increasingly used conversational AI.

Another trend that has become more apparent is the move towards the ‘cloud contact centre’. This consists of virtual desktops and remote workforce management, including hiring, training and coaching, as well as improved security. This enables a hybrid and distributed workforce and opportunity for digital transformation.

In this vein, tech firm Capita has accelerated its use of Amazon Connect, an omni-channel cloud contact centre. The technology effectively allows a call centre to be quickly set up, enabling agents located anywhere to work together remotely. This technology allowed Capita to meet customer demand while providing customer service advisors with an intuitive user interface to control core telephony functionality, view key management information and call history.

Moving forward, and as the advantages of automation and digitalisation become clearer, it is inevitable that businesses will look to develop technology that will allow call advisors to able to focus more on the customer and less on the admin.